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I am a consultant psychiatrist working in the NHS, specialising in psychiatry and illnesses such as depression, Alzheimer’s disease and schizophrenia.
I lecture at hospitals, have published two books and have treated people with complex mental health problems in the UK for most of my career
I am also not surprised that 42 per cent of EU doctors are considering leaving the UK due to the contempt with which the government is treating EU doctors.
I first came to the UK in 1987 as a student, originally with no plans to stay for any length of time.
After completing my education, I discovered that the country needed psychiatrists which, coupled with meeting my wife, led to me making a life and career here.
In the 30 years I have lived here, I have always admired the British characteristics of tolerance and fair play, with my immigration status never being an issue with the patients I encountered.
Since last year’s vote however, there appears to have been a change in the social discourse, one that has been mainly led by certain sections of the media and political parties.
I now read statements in national newspapers in regards to foreign citizens that only a few years ago would have been unthinkable.
While my own relationships with patients have remained positive and unchanged, the example being set by the country’s leaders is one that is very disheartening to EU citizens.
It is also one that could ultimately prompt many, including those in the NHS, to reconsider their lives here in the UK.
What would it mean if almost half of the doctors from EU countries suddenly left?
The NHS has so many deep, serious problems the last thing we need is to lose these people.
My field of psychiatry is one that remains particularly difficult to recruit to, and the idea, held by some politicians, that we will be able to find British recruits overnight to fill places like mine is ridiculous.
Recruitment from EU member states has been the NHS’s lifeline for dealing with staff shortages which are crippling hospital wards across the country, and the medical professionals who come to work in the NHS represent a range of skillsets and experience.
Some are medical students undertaking electives and others are renowned clinical specialists or leading experts in their field of medicine.
But, to this government, it seems that after these years of service, doctors from the EU are only fit to be played as political pawns.
I want to believe that no one will knock on my door in the middle of the night to deport me, but the whole point of being a bargaining chip is there are no guarantees.
It’s strange to see my fellow doctors, whether they’ve practiced in the NHS for one year or 50, facing an implicit threat of deportation when this point-scoring exercise couldn’t be more detrimental to patients’ wellbeing.
While I am confident that the national mentality in the UK will eventually return to its normal open and accepting state, the Government needs to do the decent thing and unilaterally recognise the rights of EU nationals in the UK.
To do so would not only generate goodwill on the continent, but would mean giving our health service and a large section of its staff a vital reassurance ahead of all the challenges we are likely to face in the coming years.
Rafael Euba is a consultant psychiatrist in London
Read the full EEA doctors survey results
I am a German National. I have lived under a totalitarian regime, received that knock on the door and fled the country 10 days later with everything that could not come with the family sold or simply abandoned, If you are an EU citizen, you automatically have settled status after 5 years, you just need to fill in the paperwork. I have had no issues getting a British passport, and feel completely welcome in my adoptive homeland. I recommend that you follow the same steps if you have not already done so.
Dr Emma Dahmer
Absolutely they should be allowed to stay, without question the NHS is in a mess now all the doctors & nurses from all over the world are worth their weight in good. We cannot survive without them !
Does it really have to always be black or white with the politics ? I am really starting to loose my hope.
I am a European medical student and a bargaining chip. Would you agree Dr Euba, that the leaders of the UK would be failing in their duty of care if this was not so? They would be failing their duty of care towards their constituents and the people of Britain. By this, I mean their efforts towards what would get them the best post-Brexit arrangement for Britain. In a negotiation, you do not want to give up any of your power before it even starts.
Yes, the NHS could suffer, and that shifts the odds. It makes the incentives for the people in power different on whether to keep us here or to make it more difficult for us to stay, compared towhat they would be if we were doing unskilled jobs. But a calculation it will be, nonetheless.
We came here knowing the laws of Britain and we came here knowing they could change. We could end up the flotsam of geopolitics. You say there are no guarantees. Well, there never were.
I think there is a need to emphasise a couple of points that are being missed here: the first one is that I, and many others like me, have devoted their working lives to an NHS that encouraged us to settle in the UK, and did so within a legal framework that guaranteed our rights, only to be threatened with expulsion as we approach retiring age. And this is in fact the second point: if this was just a question of filling in a form, as Emma suggests, we wouldn't be any good as bargaining chips. We are "negotiating capital" (as the Home Office insensitively put it) precisely because there is an implicit threat hanging in the air. The form you allude to is a mere prerequisite for a citizenship application and nothing is guaranteed in that complex administrative process.
But perhaps the main issue is a more abstract one. This is a country that is proud of its moral traditions and how they have always guided the actions of its government and other public institutions. Morality is deeply engrained in the culture. This is the only country I know in which morality is even the subject of an entertainment programme ("The Moral Maze"). And yet the PM and her government have come up with a policy regarding EU residents in the UK that is simply immoral. Using people as "negotiating capital" is the kind of thing that belongs in a primitive political system, not in one of the oldest democracies in the world.
The British government has chosen to adopt a very extreme position regarding this matter, so extreme that not even UKIP endorsed it. EU doctors in the UK are, I think, in a particularly good position to make our voices heard and encourage the government to do the decent thing by guaranteeing unilaterally our right to remain.
Forgot to sign the entry above.
Dear Dr Euba,
You raise some good points. Some questions first. Would you be OK with the UK government guaranteeing the right of EU doctors, but not other EU citizens to remain? Or EU skilled workers vs unskilled?
Secondly, we must consider that the British do not feel, on the whole, European. I have not read the entire analysis I have included, but the 65% figure who would see themselves as "British only" contrasts quite sharply with the 25% equivalent figure in Germany. To the British, we are the same as everyone else. And we do not even have English as a first language, as the following article points out. www.theguardian.com/.../theresa-may-donald-trump-us-uk-immigration
Let us not overestimate the so-called morality which is ingrained in British culture. Numerous atrocities have been committed by Britain in the past, and some were committed in the relatively recent past (Iraq, Ireland). And they were committed in the name of one of the oldest democracies in the world.
I feel like we might be having two separate conversations, in a way. However, as to practicalities, then yes, we should push for EU citizens to have a right to remain. But let us base this appeal on realities, not on morality. We come from all over Europe, we start businesses (eg in Cambridge University Entrepreneurs Society, more than half of the members are not British). These businesses pull in money from the rest of the world to the UK. We are taxed in the UK. Our academic papers are listed as from the UK. Our research is presented as part of UK scientific prowess. Indeed, all our achievements are claimed by the UK. Our children grow up to be British. I have realised this coming here. If we make these arguments, they might make some British people think.
If I was to argue for the benefit of the EU, it would probably be better if we did not get the right to remain in the UK.
I am sorry for your personal situation. I know that things turning out differently having planned a life ahead can be very distressing. My grandfather, in Cyprus, kept a car that was always loaded with gas and supplies at the back of his house for 10 years after the Turkish invasion. The Turkish army had stopped its advance 700 metres from his front porch. In some ways we have forgotten how unpredictable the world really is.
I hope that everything turns out well for you. I hope that EU doctors get to stay if they want to. I hope the NHS does not deteriorate to the point where patient care is compromised. As for me, I am learning French. Just in case.
It has been a pleasure discussing with you.
The survey is an underestimate. I am a consultant physician in the NHS and British citizen. My wife is an EU citizen. This isn't just the EU physicians you should be counting, as many British citizens have EU citizen partners. We are almost certainly leaving UK as a result of Brexit, and the complexities of applying for leave to remain.
I appreciate you feel some insecurity but I do not think this is overly well-founded. It is on no-one's interests, and is hardly a realistic scenario, that we should start 'deporting experienced medical staff in the dead of night'. The UK has moved to change its relationship with the EU. I am certain both the populace and the powers that be are extremely keen to retain the services of such skilled doctors as yourself in this transition. The only hypothetical way this would be impossible, I think, is if the EU negotiators were to block reciprocal deals. This is extremely unlikely but it may be worth petitioning EU; the UK will be determined to keep you. Affording guarantees of workers rights across the board is unfortunately no way to enter negotiations, and no way to preserve the rights of British citizens abroad.